Street sleep chairman learns chilly life lesson
Shivering council chairman Mandy Thomas-Atkin got a chilling lesson on life on the streets for homeless people when she swopped her comfortable house for 12 hours of sleeping outdoors overnight in a cardboard shelter.
Mandy, chairman of Mid Sussex District Council, joined 24 other volunteers including St John’s Church vicar Father Kevin O’Brien and top fund-raiser Peter Smith, with £400. They paid £10 to sleep rough in Church Walk, Burgess Hill, and raised about £3,300 for the YMCA charity.
Mandy told the Middy afterwards: “Realisation hit. This is what some adults and children have to do, not just for one night but every night.
“Yes, I had copious amounts of layers on. The ‘Mitchelin man’ had nothing on me. But it still didn’t stop the cold, especially from the ground where I lay.
“Two sleeping bags, a layer of camping mat and cardboard didn’t make the ground an awful lot softer. Would a truly homeless person have all this stuff, where would they store it?”
Night and early morning noises troubled her.
“I tossed and turned most of the night only catching a few snatches of sleep. My face, which wasn’t covered even though I was in my shelter, was so cold.
“At 6am more people were moving around, it was clearly time to move on. I felt dirty, cold and in need of the loo. All things we take for granted in our own homes. I would like to thank the Central Sussex YMCA for all the really valuable work it does for our young people. I won’t forget my night sleeping rough and have learnt a valuable lesson.” Mandy was accompanied by her son Nathaniel for the stint from 7pm Friday.
Local cafes provided food and drink for the sleepers and police checked the camp.
Proceeds will go towards the YMCA helping homeless youngsters.
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Weather for West Sussex
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 16 C to 24 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South
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Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South